Monday, December 6, 2010

All-Aught Indians--#3 Starter--Bartolo Colon (2000-2002)

Bartolo Colon came up with the Indians as one of their top pitching prospects, but was overshadowed by another bright young gunner, Jaret Wright.  Wright seemed to be the future ace of the staff in 2007, going 8-3, while Colon made his debut the same year, going 4-7.  Wright would hang on with the club through the 2002, struggling with injuries and mechanics problems.  Colon would also last until the 2002 season with the Tribe, becoming the ace of the staff, and also one of the best pitchers in baseball.  The All-Aught Indians #3 starter is Bartolo Colon.

Colon entered the 2000 season coming off his best season, having gone 18-5 with a 3.95 ERA.  Remember, this was the height of the steroid era, and only seven total AL pitchers that year had an ERA under 4.00.  Colon finished fourth in the A.L. Cy Young race.

Colon would come out of the gates in the new millennium struggling.  While his record would stand at 6-2 on June 3, he had given up six runs in an outing twice, and was sitting on a 4.23 ERA.  He had also struggled a bit with injury, spending the latter part of April on the DL with a pulled oblique. After a loss on July 26, Colon's record stood at 4.49 ERA.  He wouldn't lose another game that year.  He would end up at 15-8, and he would lower his ERA to 3.88.  His signature win that season came on September 18th in a start in New York.  In his only shutout of the season, Colon would throw a one-hit shut out, walking one and striking out a season high 13.  Overall that season, he would strike out 212 batters, becoming the first Indian since the 70's (Dennis Eckersley) to strike out over 200 batters.

Colon would consider his patter in 2001.  On June 30, Colon was 6-7 with a 4.89 ERA.  Colon wouldn't lose a game in July, going 4-0, dropping his ERA to 4.39 in the process.  Colon would only win one game in August, but he would continue to drop his ERA, to 4.12.  In September, Colon would go 3-1, bringing his record to 14-11, and dropping his ERA to below 4 for the first time all season.  He'd get lit up in a meaningless game in October against Kansas City, which would put his ERA over 4.  Still, a typical season tantalizingly close to great, but back-and-forth enough to make people wonder if he'd ever go from being an almost great, to a Cy Young winner.  Then came the playoffs, and we got to see just how big game Colon, in his prime, could be.

The Indians were going up against the Seattle Mariners, who had won 300 games that season, and were heavy favorites to beat the Tribe.  Colon promptly shut the Mariners down in game one.  He went eight innings, giving up six hits and two walks, while striking out ten.  He was dominant, and put the Mariners on their heals.  Colon was equally dominating in his game four start.  Then came the sixth inning.  Colon would almost get out of a bases loaded jam with a 1-0 lead, but would end up giving up three runs before leaving the game.  Still, his big game performance couldn't be overlooked.  He'd finish the series with a 1-1 record and a 1.84 ERA.

Colon would save his best for last in 2002.  It seemed as though Colon finally figured out how to bring out his best from start-to-start.  He would make sixteen for the Tribe that season, and he'd win ten of them, going 10-4, with an impressive 2.55 ERA.  He stopped trying to strike out every hitter, and began to pitch.  Colon's best starts of the season were back to back complete games at the end of May.  He'd give up one unearned run in the first game against Toronto, and shut out Chicago.  It turns out that Colon was pitching too well for an Indians team that was struggling.  He was traded to the Expos after his last start...ironically a win against the Expos for his tenth win.

Colon's 2 1/2 years with the Tribe were enough to put him in this club of Indians elite.  Colon was 39-24 with a 3.67 ERA.  He'd strike out 488 batters in 536 2/3 innings pitched, and 80 starts altogether.

Colon's final piece to this All-Decade team was his return in the trade.  The Indians would receive Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Lee Stevens.  Two of those players show up on this All-Aught roster.  Another (Brandon Phillips) surely would show up on Cincinnati's.  Not a bad haul for one of the best pitchers in the game.

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